Feb. 24, 2013
HOUSTON - Following last week's disappointing performance in its spring opener, Louisiana Tech head coach Jeff Parks continued to talk about how he knew his Bulldog golf team was a legitimate NCAA regional contender.
This weekend they proved it.
The Bulldogs rebounded in a strong way to finish fourth in a highly-competitive 15-team field at the Bayou City Collegiate Championships hosted by Rice and Houston at Redstone Golf Course. LA Tech finished behind only 3rd-ranked Texas, 36th-ranked Houston and 43rd-ranked South Carolina while besting 11 other teams, including 37th-ranked Baylor, 41st-ranked UT Chattanooga and 50th-ranked Indiana.
"Just like anybody who has ever played sports that has gotten knocked down, it takes a lot of heart to come back," Parks said. "That's what these guys did. I'm so proud of the way they responded (after finishing 15th last week). It takes a lot of guts to come back and perform like this in a field like this. I'm proud of the way they stepped up and did it.
"The competition was stiff this week. When you get to play the third best team in the country ... we played the University of Texas; they are third in the country for a reason and they showed it. I feel like we can really compete with the top 50 teams in the country and obviously we did this week. We beat three of them. We are capable of playing that type of golf."
The Bulldogs were seventh after the first day of the event, moved up to fifth after Saturday's round and climbed one more notch on Sunday. At one point on Saturday, Tech was second behind only the Longhorns.
"There are some holes that are easy and some that are tough on this course," Parks said. "We got off to a good start on some of the scoreable holes and then had to finish on some of the tough finishing holes that play into the wind. All in all, we played well and that gave us confidence."
Tech shot a third round team total of eight-over-par 296 and finished the 54-hole event with a total of 10-over-par 874. Texas ran away with the event with a team total of 22-under-par 842 followed by Houston (863), South Carolina (871), LA Tech (874), Chattanooga (875), Baylor (875), Charlotte (878), East Carolina (880), Lamar (881), UTSA (883), Houston Baptist (892), Indiana (893), UT Arlington (896), New Mexico State (896) and Rice (917).
In addition to besting three Top 50 ranked teams the Bulldogs defeated three Western Athletic Conference foes in UTSA, UT Arlington and New Mexico State.
Individually, Victor Lange and Sam Forgan both recorded top 20 performances as Lange finished tied for eighth with a 54-hole total of two-under-par 214 while Forgan finished tied for 11th with a total of one-under-par 215.
"Victor is a freshman even though doesn't seem like it," Parks said. "He is still learning. He hit his driver extremely well and extremely long. He said he played really, really well but just didn't get a couple of putts to drop or he might have been contending for even higher. A top 10 finish in that field is very impressive.
"Sam had four balls in the water and had a three putt, and he still shot even par today. That shows what kind of heart he has. He continued to fight even when things weren't going his way. He is a senior for a reason. He has been through it. He knows how to continue to grind even if he hits a bad shot here or there. It was fun to watch."
Travis Wilmore finished tied for 31st with a total of five-over-par 221 while Jack Lempke tied for 65th with a total of 229. Ben Robinson, who shot a two-under-par 70 during the event's second round, finished 70th with a 231.
Texas' Brandon Stone won the tournament with a nine-under-par 207 as the Longhorns had the top three finishers and four of the top seven.